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Employees ignorant of their contractual rights?

11 June 2010 #Employment

Which? Legal Service surveyed 4,000 members of the British public, asking whether they had read their contracts of employment.

Shockingly, 26% said they had only skim read their contracts, while 6% confessed they had not read them at all.

Which? Chief Executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: "Our research shows that many people fail to take the time to read their employment contracts properly, which means they have no idea what they`ve signed up to and could be in for a shock in the future."

The research showed that employers were equally relaxed when it came to contractual issues, with only 30% of employees stating they had been issued with their contract prior to commencing work, and 9% stating they had not received a contract until they had been in the post for over 6 months. 12% of employees said they had not been issued with a contract at all.

This last statistic should be of concern to employers as Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) imposes on an employer a statutory duty to give an employee a written statement of terms and conditions, or a written contract containing certain specified information, not later than 2 months after the beginning of the employee`s employment

For more guidance on the particulars that are required to be provided in a Section 1 statement, see the Buddy Guidance Note on Contracts of Employment.

Buddy also has precedent employment contracts which comply with the requirements of Section 1.

If an employer does not provide the employee with a Section 1 statement within 2 months of him starting his employment, the employee can bring a complaint to an employment tribunal. The tribunal can then specify which particulars ought to have been given, or can affirm, amend or replace particulars the employer has given if the employee claims that his Section 1 statement is incorrect. The employer is then deemed to have given the particulars specified or amended by the tribunal.

An employee is also entitled to receive 2-4 weeks pay in the event that he brings a successful claim listed in Schedule 5 to the Employment Act 2002 (which includes unfair dismissal, discrimination and breach of contract claims) if at the time the proceedings commenced, the employer was in breach of the duty to provide a written statement.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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